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When Hitler was on Facebook

Another thing about Ricky Gervais’s bit of Facebook wisdom is how childishly wrong it is as a claim (much less an argument).

If you grabbed Hitler and shouted “stop killing innocent people you cunt”, someone on Facebook would call you out on your sexist language.

Well first we have to accept that “you” can “grab” Hitler in the same world where people will comment on Facebook about what you shouted at him. It’s too much to ask us to accept that. If Ricky Gervais were in a position to “grab” Hitler and shout something at him, he wouldn’t be in a position to report his shouting on Facebook.

Then, an even more demanding task: we have to accept that grabbing and shouting at Hitler is some kind of important useful, even heroic work that shouldn’t be interrupted by people objecting to sexist language. But is it? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think Hitler would have been dissuaded from killing millions of people by Ricky Gervais, no matter how loudly Ricky Gervais called him a cunt.

Then we have to accept the hidden premise: that if someone is really really terrible, the way Hitler was, then it’s ok to call that person a cunt.

Well that’s just fucking stupid. The two things aren’t even related to each other. Calling a really terrible person a name, any name, makes no difference to anything. It’s idiotic to defend it in the guise of heroic resistance work.

So that’s one thing. It’s totally beside the point. And the other thing is, it’s still bad to use sexist (or racist etc but Ricky Gervais didn’t talk about any of those, it’s only the sexist ones he’s defending) epithets. It doesn’t become ok to use them once you get VERY angry or VERY upset. There isn’t a gauge you can check to see if you’re angry or upset enough to start using sexist epithets. There isn’t some point at which it becomes ok. As sadly usual, this becomes easier to see if you swap a racist epithet for the sexist one. Suppose some white Republican legislator writes a law making it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage (hello Tennessee!); does that make it ok to call that legislator a nigger or a wetback?

No.

This isn’t a hill anyone should want to die on. It’s pathetic. It’s pathetic to see grown men pitching baby fits over their precious right to call people cunts. It’s gervaisy and pathetic.

Comments

  1. chigau (違う) says

    Good idea.
    I’m thinking™ that, should I ever feel like calling someone a ‘cunt’, I’ll call them a ‘gervais’ instead.

  2. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Then we have to accept the hidden premise: that if someone is really really terrible, the way Hitler was, then it’s ok to call that person a cunt.

    There’s also the general repulsiveness of reserving ‘cunt’ for the really, really, egregiously terrible people. That’s more misogynist than the usual “cunt isn’t even gendered anymore in the UK” excuse; not less.

    Then, an even more demanding task: we have to accept that grabbing and shouting at Hitler is some kind of important useful, even heroic work that shouldn’t be interrupted by people objecting to sexist language.

    I think this is important to point out. I was in a chat room a couple weeks ago and there were 2 guys whining about people getting mad about fat shaming. One of them complained that you can’t even say “that’s not normal” without being labeled a terrible person. I hadn’t thought of it at the time but I should have asked him why he thought “that’s not normal” is a useful thing to say. Like, does he think that overweight people don’t know how they’re viewed or that their weight is not ideal? This thing that people are so unfairly trying to stop you saying: why the fuck does it need to be said?

  3. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    Sad. I usually really like Gervais.

    You raise an interesting point Ophelia. If the idea is that he’s just using the c-word as a substitute for “horribly awful person”, then why that particular word? Why not the n-word? It is also a word that alot of people like to use for maximal invective. Heck, I’ve heard white people call other white people the n-word because they knew it would be the worst insult possible (both they and their targets were fairly racist.) So my question to Ricky would be: “seeing as how you seem to think any outrage over the use of the c-word is unjustified, would the same logic hold for the use of the n-word? And if not, why would one be ok and not the other?”

    If his response was that “Hitler wasn’t black, ergo the n-word makes no sense” I would point out that Hitler also wasn’t a woman so the c-word makes no sense (unless there’s an underlying sexist basis for calling someone a c-word, which is precisely what he seems to be refuting.)

  4. Carlos Cabanita says

    I never understood how one can use that word as an insult. A cunt is a beauty and I’ve spent counless hours worshipping them. Calling Hitler that is absurd.

  5. says

    So…I’ve been speculating for a while…

    Years ago, this would come up and some British men would argue that “cunt” is used for men and has lost all connotations of female genitalia and misogyny. Other British men and women, of course, would contest this, showing that it was seen as far different from “asshole” and women objected to it. But the consensus did seem to be that it was almost exclusively applied to men.

    Several months ago, it became very clear that Gervais was using the term to apply to women and then to men he associated with women. Since then I’ve seen several British men claim that it’s a term for both men and women. My fear is that there’s been a regression there, maybe due in some part to Gervais himself – it’s now increasingly used with clearly misogynistic connotations against both men and woman. This would be even worse than the situation in the US, and I hope it’s not true. Maybe I’m wrong about the situation in the past…

  6. leni says

    Wow, SC I had not seen that about Ricky Gervais before. If only nigger or jew rhymed with hunter. Comedy gold.

    What an asshole.

  7. says

    There’s also the general repulsiveness of reserving ‘cunt’ for the really, really, egregiously terrible people. That’s more misogynist than the usual “cunt isn’t even gendered anymore in the UK” excuse; not less.

    THIS.
    It’s worse than just calling somebody cutting you off in traffic a c***: Hitler is such a horrible, horrible person that the worst thing to call him you can think of is “word for female genitals”

  8. kage says

    I don’t understand why Gervias gets so *hysterical* when his language is criticised. Sure he can say what he wants, but so can his critics. Why does he gets so offended by other people taking offence?

  9. fredbloggs says

    I’ve noticed how the word “cunt” is so much more emotive in the US than it is in the UK. As far as I can make out, it’s specifically used to abuse women in US English whereas in UK English women are rarely called cunts.

    I can’t ever recall a woman being called a “cunt” in the UK in 52 years.

    As far as swear words go, it is probably thought to be the “worst”, but even then, context is important. I’ve heard close friends refer to each other as “daft cunts” for example.

    “cunt isn’t even gendered anymore in the UK”

    I’m not sure that it ever was, in the sense that it ever has been used specifically to abuse women. This isn’t an “excuse” – this is a fact.

    English is a widely used language with subtle differences even within the UK, let alone between the UK and the US, and given the global nature of the internet, some miscommunication is bound to arise.

  10. m0fa says

    I support fredbloggs comment…in Australia it is the same as it is in the UK…the ‘C’ word is not a gendered word or a sexist word.

  11. theoreticalgrrrl says

    Men in the U.S. get called “a pussy” by other men as an insult all the time. Comparing men to stupid cunts and pussies is based on the belief that women are inferior and pathetic and weak. There’s no need to call a woman the same thing because it’s what she already IS. It would be redundant. The first and maybe only time I heard someone call a female person a pussy was one of my neighbors. He was coming downstairs and he turned and looked over his shoulder and said, “hurry up, you stupid pussy,” I was genuinely shocked to see his teenage sister following behind him. It’s so rarely used as an insult to women, it took me aback. You may be referred to as your genitals, but it’s not also used as an insult.

    Men also get called a girl or lady as an insult, especially in sports. Are you going to tell me that’s not a gender-ed insult either? And the phrase “I’ll make you my bitch,” is said by men to men in prison. Is that gender-neutral also?

    But aside from that, why is Gervais so upset by someone saying cunt is a sexist insult, so much so that he has to invoke Hitler to make it sound trivial in comparison?

  12. feedmybrain says

    I live in England and know young women (early 20s) who call other women and men cunts, it’s their go to worst insult. I’ve argued with them on it’s use and they all maintain it’s just an insult nowadays devoid of past connotations.

    Did anyone catch Gervais’ mong argument on Twitter last year? If i remember rightly he was using it self-deprecatingly. Anyway someone questioned his use of it and he dug his heels in, in much the same way; refusing to accept that it was problematic.

  13. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @ fredbloggs

    Calling a man a “cunt” is insulting him by likening him to a woman because “like a woman” is the worst thing you can accuse a man of being. It’s the exact same way we use “pussy” in the US. In the US our use of “cunt” as an insult is more like a superlative form of bitch The gender of the person it’s being directed at is completely beside the point; either way it’s derived from the misogynist idea that the last thing anyone should want to be is “like a woman.”

  14. fredbloggs says

    Seven, you seem to be saying that some people use “cunt” and “women” as synonyms, which would explain why it is an emotive issue in the US, reasonably so.

    Cunt just isn’t used that way in the UK and never has been (Well, at least not in my living memory)

  15. says

    Mark @ 12 – you don’t get to decide that.

    Also, there’s no need to “support” anyone’s comments. They’re not running for anything.

  16. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    It’s also weird that Gervais doesn’t seem to care about the fact that even if the c-word is totes harmless in the UK it is highly offensive in the US. You would think that Gervais is wise enough to understand that the US is a pretty huge part of his fanbase (not to mention the importance of Hollywood for any entertainer) so why risk alienating so many fans over a word that he knows will offend people?

    I mean when I took Spanish and Russian in high school, as adolescents are wont to do, the first thing we all did was try to learn how to curse. I quickly learned that some terms that different words have different emotional valences in other languages/cultures. And even with shared languages (Australia, UK, US) what might be might be harmless in one place can be offensive in the other. It’s an odd battle for Gervais to pick to fight. Even if I grew up calling people “duck” as a friendly josh, I wouldn’t continue to do so in Mexico where “pato” is a homophobic slur. And if I did, I wouldn’t be surprised when people took offense or called me asshole.

  17. Decker says

    The only thing funny about Gervais resides in the fact he’s a Brit with a french name.

    Them an is NOT funny at all.

  18. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Cunt just isn’t used that way in the UK and never has been (Well, at least not in my living memory)

    Bullshit.

  19. says

    Bullshit.

    It’s also bullshit for Australia. Most students in my primary school knew that cunts were vaginas (i.e. that the term is gendered), and we weren’t so exceptionally bogan that the rest of Australia was another world.

  20. fredbloggs says

    It depends on what you mean by “Gendered” Bruce. No-one is disputing that the meaning of the word derives from female genitalia.

    And my original statement remains true, even if you call it bullshit.

  21. A. Noyd says

    I swear, people have some of the dumbest rationalizations for why a slur isn’t gendered. My favorite is when they note that only men are called something, so therefore it can’t be gendered. No, if only one gender is called the slur, that makes it even more gendered.

  22. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @A Noyd:

    Lolsob: that exactly.

  23. leni says

    I don’t really have a problem with the words cunt or bitch when they are used to describe a specific female who is a particularly terrible person. Cercei from Game of Thrones for example. But I know that other people do so I don’t generally use them except when I’m talking to very close female friends in private conversations and also to lovingly insult them. I also find it endearing when gay men use it with other gay men (in the friendly way, not the mean way).

    I do have a problem with them being used to insult men (for the obvious reason that being anything like a woman is The Worst Thing Ever), and I definitely have a problem when they are used to refer to women in general or collectively, or even the “what’s up my bitches”. (I hate that.) And I will never use the word pussy, not even as a joke. That’s where I draw my line, but I know other people have different opinions on it so I just don’t use them. Or I try not to. And most of you have seen my profanity-laden posts enough to know that if I can accomplish this without much trouble, surely it shouldn’t be that difficult for most other people.

    theoreticalgrrrl:

    There’s no need to call a woman the same thing because it’s what she already IS. It would be redundant.

    Yep. I’m sure it’s happened, but I almost never hear it used (at least in terms of implying weakness or cowardice) to insult a woman. I probably would have side-eyed that too.

  24. says

    It depends on what you mean by “Gendered” Bruce.

    Clearly by “gendered”, I meant an inter-dimensional circus touring the Sahara…

    Good grief… Talk about equivocation.

  25. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    So you’re British yourself? You live in the UK?

    I don’t need to be British or live in the UK to have noticed the steady parade of people who do live in places where British English is spoken calling bullshit on the claim that the c-word isn’t used in a gendered way in those places.

    It depends on what you mean by “Gendered” Bruce.

    Good grief. I think I sprained one of my extraocular muscles.

  26. leni says

    Clearly by “gendered”, I meant an inter-dimensional circus touring the Sahara…

    Well, in the States “inter-dimensional” and “circus” and “Sahara” have specific meanings. If you weren’t such an obvious colonialist bigot you’d know that.

    So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Shakespeare.

  27. says

    So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Shakespeare.

    I gather the specific “Shakespeare” you refer to, is a fellow Australian I’m as yet unaware of. I’m not British.

  28. says

    It seems to me there are two arguments here:

    1) It’s not a sexist insult because it’s not sexist.

    2) It’s not a sexist insult because it’s not an insult.

    Gervais clearly isn’t making argument 2 — if he’s proposing shouting it at Hitler, I think we can conclude that Gervais, being who he is, regards the word as an insult (I think that’s pretty much the gist of he first paragraph of Seven’s first coment). But he doesn’t seem to be making argument 1, either.

    I guess what he’s saying is:

    3) It is a sexist insult, but there’s nothing wrong with sexism.

  29. latsot says

    To disturbingly many of my fellow Brits: It’s not the colonials who are getting this not-even-slightly subtle or difficult thing wrong. It’s us. Or, more accurately, you. So stop dripping tar on other people’s brushes.

    In particular, stop making everyone else in the world think we’re a bunch of hopelessly parochial bigots There are several ways to do this. The approach I favour is our not being a bunch of hopelessly parochial bigots, but I’m starting to wonder if this is a lost cause.

    We deserve the criticism. Stop making me deserve the criticism.

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